Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet Henry Swann, Main Character in Swann's Lake of Despair by Charles Salzberg During His Blog Tour for Latest in Series Just Out!

"How would you feel about a little
"My nipples are hard."
"Here," I said, tossing him my coat.
"Try this on. Put the collar up and wear
this." I tossed him my watch cap.
"before you step outside, have the doorman
hail you a cab. As you see it pulling up to
the curb, step outside and make sure you're
seen. Then hop in the cab. Quick. Like you're
trying to get away from someone."
"And while I doing this you'll be?"
"Waiting by the side of the building to make
sure he takes the bait...
"You're a master, Swann."
"I do my best..."
"You look a little disconcerted, Swann," Klavan cannily observed as I tossed my coat on one chair and plunked myself down in another. His office is so clean, with everything in its place, that I always feel like I should be wearing white gloves.
"I hate it when I'm inadequate, that I'm not as good as I hope I am."
"That happen often?"
"Too often, way too often."
"What is it this time?"
"I was being tailed. I thought I'd lost him, but she shows up waiting for me outside your building."
"He's no magician. He probably knows where your, or should I say my, office is. It's on your cards, isn't it?"
"I didn't hand him my business card, Ross."
"Easy, big boy."
"Sorry. I'm just a little unnerved. Obviously, I thought I was better than I am."
"You're probably not as hard to find as you think you are. He probably knows where you live, too."
"I doubt that," I said, my mind whirling, trying to figure out how I was going to lose this guy before I got home. "Sometimes I even have trouble finding my way home."
"You're listed, aren't you?"
"Are you kidding? So everyone and his mother can find me? There've been times when I'm only one step ahead of all those guys I used to find for skipping on their bills. And in my business you don't have a lot of satisfied customers. You think I'm going to list my address so just anyone can find me?"


WELCOME, HENRY SWANN! Although I haven't had the chance to read all of the books you star in, I've always been curious about you... [Check out my reviews of his earlier books and also his own site where I picked up this voice tape so you can get a feel for his voice.]  I also found a sketch of someone purported to look like him... Still he haunts me for some reason... Swann, there are fans out there who are still trying to nail you down and get to know you better... Moi, included!

It didn't take me long to sink into Charles Salzberg's latest Swann novel... But since I still don't have him clearly in my mind, I started thinking about my other PI favorites, although Swann is not licensed, he's starting to use that title! Some scenes brought the sexy voice for me from the Mike Hammer TV program as he, too narrated his actions during cases...

But then there would be comments about his appearance and his lack of attention to himself and it was then that Columbo came to mind...
although I do know Swann prefers casual, usually jeans...

So then the overall underlying humor and sly remarks came and I immediately turned to Spenser, who also narrates his work--perhaps my favorite (or at least my favorite author who created him, Robert B. Parker)

Spenser had a great partner who I loved, but... Swann added a "possible" partner in this book and a pair of detectives entered the competition... Nero Wolfe and his partner...

But NONE of them would do! Swann and his potential partner, are unique, different. But as included on the front cover, "Henry Swann is in the great tradition of American mystery heroes; world-weary, philosophical, tough, and competent..." And you're gonna love his internal thoughts as a man named Goldblatt forces himself into Swann's life... Will he become a permanent addition? Will Swann partner up? And what about a steady female? There was one in this book that I'd like to see again by the name of Claudia. She just pulled a scam...but...she could change, couldn't she???

Anyway, enough of my character search, let me tell you about the latest in this terrific series...
Here's a plea to the author...get us more on Swann and where he's heading in the future...

Swann's Lake of Despair
By Charles Salzberg

As the title implies, this novel was quite different in sharing the life of Henry Swann. It shows much more of his internal thinking, especially about the individual cases in which he becomes involved. In many ways, he becomes the judge and jury as he decides first one way and then another to "close" the case to his own personal satisfaction. Of course, I felt he made all the right decisions, so I enjoyed watching his thoughts through the activities. And if the individual who was paying the bill for his investigation was not happy? Hey, that was his problem, right?

"Goldblatt, you gonna tell me what the hell you
wanted to see me about?" I said, as I watched
him shovel another forkful of pasta into his
mouth, or at least in the general vicinity thereof.
Believe me, it was not a pretty sight.
"Year. Sure. After we finish the meal."
"I don't know if I can wait that long. Watching
you eat is making me sick."
"You got a problem with the way I eat?" he said,
as a few droplets of red sauce shot through the
air and landed on a glass I'd moved in front of
my plate for protection from just such an assault.
"Exhibit number one," I said, pointing to the
..."Now maybe we can discuss the business you
said you had for me."
"I haven't had desert yet."
"Screw dessert, If I don't hear the reason you
got me here, I'm leaving."
"Okay, okay, I need you to do a solid for me."
"I don't do solids. I learned a long time ago
that solids always turn out to be work and,
like beer spilled on a table, it tends to get
sticky and spreads out. For work, I get paid.
And I doubt that's going to happen with you.
How much have you brought in since you
got disbarred?"
So, in respect to Swann's true character, I was quite pleased to learn where his heart and motives were...

The blurb for the book is quite succinct. After agreeing to work on a temporary basis with his "frenemy," Goldblatt, he was immediately thrust into working three cases... Not an easy thing to do since he had little time to do the thinking required to put the respective puzzles together... 

The first one immediately felt like a scam to Swann. It was to find a lost diary by a young woman who had lived during the "Jazz age." Goldblatt had already made the connection and wanted Swann to deal with the exchange--or something like that--but what it turned out to be was that Swann went to the meet and was assaulted! Not a good way to start a relationship...

The second job was to attempt to find the lost photos of a once well-known photographer. Pictures he had taken of Marilyn Monroe had surfaced sometime in the recent past and had sold for a bundle... Goldblatt was contacted to search for the remaining work that had never been found.

Let's stop a minute and mention that Goldblatt, an attorney, has been disbarred, but still manages to keep a living going by these strange jobs that he finds somehow... Swann, as you may know, started out as a skip tracer, finding people who had not paid their bills. He was good at it--finding people. So all that Goldblatt had brought to him was some version of that activity.

The last job was a straight-out missing person case. A young-man, heartbroken when his girlfriend left in the middle of the night, wanted Swann to find her. Hopefully to bring her back but at least to find out that she was not dead or in danger...

When readers watch Swann in action, you might first consider that this investigative work is easy... But that opinion doesn't last very long as he's working his way through the lives of the involved three people, trying to find some clue, some tip that sounds marginally possible, to see what the next step in the search is. You can understand my comment about time to think through each of these puzzles! But with three cases going at once and an agreed-upon temporary partner who has the pushy personality of a lawyer, Swann is becoming overwhelmed at times... But, hey, Swann handles himself quite well...most of the time...

"Nice guy, huh?" he said, as he swiveled back and forth in my chair.
"I try not to jump to conclusions."
"You don't like him?"
"I didn't say that. I just said the verdict isn't in yet. There's something a little off about his story...and him. I don't pretend to know women and I know they're unpredictable, but disappearing into thin air like that. That's something professional con-women do. But in this case, she didn't take him for anything, at least anything he's admitting to her having taken, so I'm stumped."
"Just his heart."
"Yeach, just his heart. Suddenly, I've turned into Miss Lonelyhearts," I said, as I made a subtle motion with my hand for him to get out of my damn chair. Somehow, he didn't get the message. "Would you please stop swiveling around like that. You're making me dizzy. Besides, shouldn't I be sitting in my own chair?"
"You want I should get up?"
"God forbid," I said, as I dragged a folding chair from the corner and sat down opposite him...
"I've got a few other irons in the fire. But there is something else I wanted to talk to you about."
"I don't renegotiate. The split is the split."
"It's not that, although I think we are going to have to revisit that subject at some point in our relationship. We've got a little unfinished business I'd like you to take care of."
"It wouldn't be that Long Beach fiasco, would it?"
"Year, As it turns out, that money you lost if a little more important than I thought it would be."
"Quel surprise. And by the way, just for the record, I didn't lose it. It was taken from me. And it never would have happened if you'd warned me what was going on. You sent me there like a lamb to the slaughter."

While each of the jobs is really a mystery to be solved, there is no suspense, few thrills... What readers will enjoy is engaging, humorous, dialogue as two men begin to know each other and think about working together... Then there Claudia who uses the attraction she sees in Swann to ensure he agrees to work with her...even though she and her friend are the ones who first assaulted him! Got to say, she must be some kind of woman and slick enough to fit in with Swann's least, in my opinion...LOL

The talk is rough, sometimes with words you might never have heard of, like a "solid" but easily understood to be the street language of the businesses and the place where they live...

I'd never juggled three cases at once, but the money on this one, if it was real, was awfully tempting. In my head, while Goldblatt rattled on, I tried to organize how I'd handle it. this was Wednesday. If I went out to Long Beach Thursday morning, I could take care of that. Friday, I could start the ball rolling on the Feingersh case. Florida, Saturday morning, take care of that. I wasn't used to working that hard, but I could do it, especially if the motivating color was green.

And speaking of money...I'd never make it in this kind of work...Handing out $20 here and $20 there...or more would never, in my mind, justify working on dangerous jobs, no matter what the pay... But then, as they say, people do what they do best... And Swann knows how to find people... Of course, he solved all the cases... But how he solved them? Well, not even Goldblatt, his temporary partner, will ever know...

Hey, grab a sandwich, cup of joe, sit in your favorite easy chair and let Swann tell you all about his latest cases! You'll relax, smile a lot, maybe chuckle once in a while and...enjoy! And, maybe, by the time you get toward the end, you'll be very interested in listening to Swann's spout his philosophy about how each of the cases were closed...

"Cut the crap, Goldblatt."
"Listen, Swann, if this is going to work, if we're going to be partners, then we have to be equal partners. Otherwise, there's the risk of bad feelings on one side. My side, to be precise."
"What about my bad feelings about splitting things with you fifty-fifty, especially since I'm out there doing all the work, taking all the risks?"
"What risks? I don't see a mark on you."
"Psychological wounds, Goldblatt. The kinds of wounds you can't see."
"What? You're gonna tell me you suffer from post-traumatic syndrome? You gonna pull that card on me?"

Right about then, I was thinking, OMG, is Goldblatt ever going to shut...up...? Yet, Swann was sitting there smiling, who knew?

Hey, check this out...and if you're good with your research, you'll find out who plays Swann... Me, I was quite happy with the face, going with the voice...sure glad I got to know you better in your latest! Swann, you're welcome at BRH any time... Now, about that girl Friday... 

Highly recommended!

"Dreams don't work unless you do." --John C. Maxwell

Charles Salzberg is a New York-based novelist, journalist and acclaimed writing instructor.
His new novel, Devil in the Hole, a work of literary crime fiction based on the notorious John List murders, is on the shelves now. He is also the author of the Henry Swann detective series: Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel; Swann Dives In; and the upcoming Swann's Lake of Despair.
A celebrated and popular creative writing teacher, he has been a Visiting Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, the Writer's Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He is a consulting editor at the webzine and co-host, with Jonathan Kravetz, of the reading series, Trumpet Fiction, at KGB in New York City.
His freelance work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, Elle, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, The New York Times Book Review, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.
He is also the author of From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, An Oral History of the NBA; On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place: Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century; and co-author of My Zany Life and Times, by Soupy Sales, Catch Them Being Good; and The Mad Fisherman.

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